Uluru is more than a rock in the red centre of Australia. It is the country’s spiritual heart. Believed to be more than 700 million years old, it holds a powerful presence, that has to be seen to be believed – it was not until I jumped off the tour bus to bask in its giant shadow that I realised the true meaning of this. I felt an instant connection with this land, despite being first generation Australian born of Italian born parents, it is almost like Uluru has a maternal energy, one that holds on to you long after you leave and makes you feel like you are part of its long history, whatever your own origins.
Uluru represents many things to many Australians. The indigenous Australians believe the rock is a sacred place, much like a church, where for millions of years tribes gather to perform rituals even to today. Climbing Uluru is possible but discouraged for this reason. They believe the rock was formed during Dreamtime, and ancient carvings and paintings adorn the side of the rock, telling stories from more than 10,000 years ago.
My favourite experience at Uluru and what I believe is must-do is the Sounds of Silence dinner. Imagine eating canapés as the sun sets over the majestic Rock, and then walking along a walkway which expands to reveal your dining room for the night – a large open plain on the red desert, decked out with tables with white cloths – under the stars. Nothing can prepare you for what happens after your three course dinner – a buffet of Aussie delicacies including crocodile and kangaroo – your waiter blows out the candles that adorn each table and all of a sudden you are sitting in the desert, in the shadow of Uluru – with only the star light overhead. An astronomer then explains the many constellations complete with telescope for those that wish to see Saturn or other visible planets. A breathtaking and unique experience for every traveller.
Located in the Northern Territory, getting to Uluru is easy. Direct flights to Uluru operates from major cities around Australia – and the Ayers Rock Resort, holds a range of accommodation options, with free airport transfers from a camping ground to deluxe hotels. Activities around the resort include a Guided walk around the gardens with Indigenous guide through to frequent sunrise, sunset and day tours to Uluru.
So don’t delay – the spiritual centre of Australia awaits.
Camping for the first time as an adult is daunting. Especially if your idea of hiking is usually something that gets you back to your hotel room by the afternoon so you can nap. (OK I don’t nap, but watching TV doesn’t have the same ring to it) And so I found myself going camping with the girls on New Years Day. This meant I was facing the wild whilst nursing a slight hangover, it was the perfect storm. My only request was that I sleep in the back of the car rather than a tent – baby steps folks, I need steel between me and any potential wild animals. But I survived and found most of it quite pleasant. For any first timers out there, try campaign for one night and ease yourself into it. So here are my top three lessons learned.
1. Pack the right food.
Whoops. I didn’t even know I was going on this trip until a couple of days prior, then New Years Eve happened. Plus I was working. So I found myself having little to no time to prepare. After a frenzied 1hr trying to pack everything I realised I should have given this the same excrutiating research that any Virgo would do when in a ‘fish out of water’ scenario. However being short of time I tried the ‘go with the flow’ strategy. This meant that I didn’t have my gluten-free food apart from GF bread and was not equipped with certain condiments that are necessary for basic camping. Thankfully our mates had already camped the night before and had the basics. But best to pack bread, butter and jam, salt and pepper, biscuits, sandwiches that you can prepare before you leave, lighter and marshmallows for the camp fire, cutlery, garbage bags and of course plenty of vodka. I mean water.
2. Pack your comforts.
I brought lots of tech including:
iPad – no matter what the hard core campers say – this device has all my ebooks on it which means I have something to read just before bed.
Selfie stick – great for group picks when you are in the bush or don’t have space.
Ipad/Iphone and portable speaker. Listening to nature is great – but occasionally Taylor Swift is a nice alternative. It may also scare off the wolves. If there are wolves….
Air mattress – this is something I should have brought along – easy to set up and makes sleeping in a tent/van more comfortable. You don’t want to wake up with a stiff back and neck.
Something to help you relax – wine, beer etc
Wear decent walking shoes in case of hikes or walking on uneven trails.
3. Bring the necessities.
Bring Aeroguard (insect repellant), sunscreen, a torch, a lantern if you have it for the campsite, a head lamp for when you are walking back to the van/tent/toilet, toilet paper – the long drop toilet is an experience, warm socks, a lightweight but warm jacket, towel, swimming costume in case you are near a creek or stream, and coffee!
So how did I go on my first camping trip as an adult? I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next one nighter – apart from the leeches, they are frightening which is why decent shoes are important – and I will be more prepared next time with my gluten free food!
1. Your ipad is NOT for taking photos on your holiday.
Yes, we know it has a camera on it – but that doesn’t mean it is for taking shots standing in front of the Leaning tower of Pisa or the Eiffel Tower, blocking the shots of everyone standing behind you. Plus, you are basically alerting any pickpocket within 50metres of you that you are:
a) a tourist
b) well-off enough to have an ipad, therefore have money.
c) not that tech savvy.
All making yourself a target for theft, or worse.
The only exception to this are the elderly or mature-aged travellers who may need the iPad to see attractions more clearly.
2. Hogging the powerpoints at the airport.
I get it. You forgot to charge your phone or laptop before you left the hotel. But that doesn’t mean you get to hog the powerpoint for hours while you wait for your plane to board – a 40% charge is enough, then move on so someone else can have a turn. Or better yet – buy a portable charger.
3. Say no to bum bags. To quote the TV Show ‘IT Crowd’, “Are you from the past?”
4. Don’t spend too much time taking selfies. Remember to put down the phone or camera, take a deep breath and soak in all the stimuli around you.
5. Up your Travel Insurance so it includes cover for your gadgets. There is nothing better than peace of mind when the unexpected happens.